Grab your spandex, it’s time to save the world

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Grab your technicolor spandex and matching mask; it’s time to join the fight. DC Universe Online has brought us the opportunity to step into the world of superheroes and villains to battle it out for the fate of humanity. Just released on Jan. 11 for the PlayStation 3 and PC, this fledgling massive multiplayer online title, or MMO, is just starting to make a name for itself.

DC Universe Online is the first MMO that bridges the hardware gap between console and PC gamers. This sounds like a stretch, but after already getting one character to the max level, I can understand how this MMO game would work on a console.

The main issue was that there would not be enough buttons to control your character. Let’s face it, there are modifications specifically made to give you access to all of your abilities at once in other games. DCUO gets around this issue by only allowing the player to have six active abilities and two useable items. This is a much more active MMO game than the current heavyweight, World of Warcraft. DCUO lets you click the mouse button for each attack rather than click an ability then wait on your character to kill an enemy on its own.

There are four roles players can choose, each with its own special set of bonuses: the tank, who protects its allies; the controller, who uses traps, gadgets and abilities to stun and slow enemies; the healer, who restores life to comrades; and the damage dealer, who inflicts pain on enemies. Each character gains access to their power-specific role after reaching level 10. Ice and Fire styles are the tank roles. Gadget and Psychic ability users can be controllers, and Nature and Sorcery powered players can heal.

Weapon choices are made when creating your character, and everything from pistols to hand blasters are available. This choice is important because some weapons are more useful for specific classes, though everything is good for dealing damage. When creating your character, you build your own custom hero or villain. With hundreds of different looks to choose from, you can start from scratch and build your own suit, or you can pick one of the famous heroes from the DC comics to start with. You also choose your mode of transportation: flying, speed or acrobatic skills. Flying is self-explanatory; it allows you to attack from the air. Speed lets you run up the sides of buildings and provides a few disorienting attacks. Acrobatics provides much-needed stun resistances, which make it an excellent choice for would-be tanks. I went with a character powered by fire that uses a staff with acrobatic skill, my end goal being a tank with lots of survivability.

As I played, I found a few bugs. The missions system has some work to be done on it. There doesn’t seem to be any way to sort your list. There are two completely open world cities inhabited by superhumans that send you on missions, and after a while the mission log gets filled up. After getting to the proper level, the player versus player content becomes accessible. Legends battles allow you to step into the shoes of the DC heroes to battle it out in base control games and capture the flag. The Legends battles have a unique quirk I found interesting: because players are using special characters for these battles, everyone at that moment is playing on the same level, making the battle more about skill and less about what gear you have. The other PvP content is a standard fight with your own character, but the levels that you fight on are so massive that the the game feels intense. When holding a base, you can watch from a distance as three opponents close in on you from the air, while you and your teammates huddle near the ground waiting for them to make impact. The downside of the whole PvP system is it’s not set up to play across different servers, so at times the wait time to get into a match can be excruciating.

Dungeons have been replaced with special alerts where four players get together to rescue a hostage and take down bosses. To get each boss to spawn, specific objectives have to be met, with each player doing their part. I found it odd at first that as a group we didn’t have to fight together till we got to the boss, but after getting familiar with the faster paced gameplay it felt more natural. Bosses are difficult, which is amazing. Coordination and movement are key for staying alive during your standard boss battle.

This is a great title that offers a different style of MMO game. The faster-paced combat and unique weapons and skill leveling bring a lot to the table. In the coming months as the minor bugs are hammered out, I expect to see this game to get a much more stable player base. If you are looking for a new game for the PC or PS3, give it a shot since you get a month free when you purchase the game. Yes, you have to pay a monthly fee to play it, but what major contending MMO today didn’t start that way?

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